"Empire of Poverty: The Moral Economy of the Spanish Empire"
Lecturer in Late Medieval/Early Modern Global History, University of Glasgow
Graduate Student Commentator: Sanjay K. Paul, PhD Candidate in History, Harvard University
Faculty Commentator: Lori De Lucia, Visiting Fellow Fall 2021, WIGH; Berensen Fellow, I Tatti, the Harvard University Center for Italian Renaissance Studies Spring 2022; Heinz Heinen Fellow at Bonn Center for Dependency and Slavery Studies, Bonn University.
It is well known that the global expansion of capitalism and colonialism created economic poverty, but it is less well known how cultural beliefs about poverty shaped the making of the modern world. This project turns more traditional research questions on their head and asks, not how empires made poverty, but how poverty made empires. In this work, poverty is not taken as a pre-conceived economic condition that is universal across all societies, but rather as a concept with complex and mutable cultural, religious, and political meanings. During the transition to capitalism and the making of the first global empire, poverty was remade as a definitive structure of this new world.
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This graduate-faculty research seminar is designed to bring together interested faculty and students on a continuing basis to cover topics on global history. It is part of History 2950A/B, Approaches to Global History, and includes both reading sessions designed for graduate students and research sessions open to the interested public during which students and faculty participants will present current research. Faculty participants will be drawn from a number of schools, and, most especially, from the group of fellows in global history who are spending the academic year 2021-2022 at the Weatherhead Initiative on Global History. Discussions will be moderated by Professors Sven Beckert and Charles Maier.